Wet Suits Are For Sissies

Math Professor Sam Brannen to Swim to Alcatraz in Speedo
January 18, 2012
math professor

This man is freezing for a reason.

Math professor Sam Brannen can be seen around campus in flip flops and shorts in these days of 50 degree weather for a very good reason. He is in training.

Brannen has decided to swim the icy waters between Alcatraz Island and San Francisco's Aquatic Park next year in a crossing with his two 20-year old nieces and math lecturer Jeff Silverman.

Brannen expects to make the swim in 50 minutes without a wet suit in water in the high 50s in a journey of 1.5 miles in a speedo and goggles. The implication here is that wet suits are for sissies.

Water temperature is critical as every degree drop in temperature makes a serious difference. The Coast Guard warns that 50% of people who swim in 50-degree water can perish in 50 minutes.

Brannen currently trains every day at the SSU heated pool but says becoming acclimatized to the cold is very important. What else is good about training in flip flops is that you don't have to get out of the pool and change into socks when you are done. 

Besides the water temperature, Brannen has to be concerned about the strength of the current and shipping-lane traffic. 

Strong currents can make the 20-minute swim longer making it more dangerous. Unexpected ships can do the same.

This intrepid band of swimmers is looking for a date to journey across the open waters sometime in September 2012.